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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 18 Apr 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Afghan Teenager Braves Threats, Family Pressure To Lead Women's Orchestra

New Age Islam News Bureau

18 Apr 2016

 Photo: Members of the Zohra orchestra attend a rehearsal. Reuters


 Triple Talaq: Muslim Law Board to Contest Shayara Bano Case in Supreme Court

 US Muslims in Illinois Host 11th Annual Event on Women in Islam

 Dreaded Islamic State is Now Scared of This All-Women Guerilla Group in Iraq

 Strict laws drive West African women to dangerous, illegal abortions

 Halal makeup: Muslim beauty without the forbidden ingredients

 Is Somali Women having Leadership role?

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Afghan Teenager Braves Threats, Family Pressure To Lead Women's Orchestra

Mon Apr 18, 2016

KABUL: Like many teenagers, 19-year-old Negin Khpalwak from Kunar in eastern Afghanistan loves music, but few people of her age have battled as fiercely to pursue their passion in the face of family hostility and threats.

Playing instruments was banned outright during the period of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, and even today, many conservative Muslims frown on most forms of music.

Negin took her first steps learning music in secret, before eventually revealing her activity to her father. He encouraged her, but the reaction from the rest of her conservative Pashtun family was hostile.

"Apart from my father, everybody in the family is against it," she said. "They say, 'How can a Pashtun girl play music?' Especially in our tribe, where even a man doesn't have the right to do it."

Now living in an orphanage in the Afghan capital of Kabul, Negin leads the Zohra orchestra, an ensemble of 35 women at the Afghanistan National Institute for Music that plays both Western and Afghan musical instruments.

When she went home on a recent visit, her uncles and brothers threatened to beat her for a performing appearance on television, and she had to return to Kabul the next day.

"Compared to women outside Afghanistan, we feel we are in a cage," she said.

In a country notorious internationally for harsh restrictions on women in most areas of life, Negin's story highlights a double challenge.

"The formation of the orchestra is an achievement in itself," said Ahmad Naser Sarmast, a musicologist who returned home from Australia after the fall of the Taliban to help found the National Institute for Music in 2010.

'I will never accept defeat'

While children at the school have the support of their parents, they often face pressure from their wider family as well as from religious authorities, he said.

"The bravery of the girls sitting in the orchestra and the leadership of a young female conductor is an achievement for Afghanistan," he said.

Some of the women say their relatives are proud of their achievements, but they face suspicion from others, as well as intimidation.

"When I have my musical instruments with me, people talk a lot behind my back," said Mina, a trumpeter in the orchestra, whose mother is a policewoman in the eastern city of Jalalabad.

"There are a lot of security problems, and if we go from one place to another with our instruments, then we have to go by car," she added.

The dangers awaiting performers in Afghanistan were brutally highlighted in 2014, when Sarmast was nearly killed by a suicide bomber who blew himself up during a show at a French-run school in Kabul.

He has not been discouraged, however. The formation of the girls' orchestra was the best response to extremists, he said, adding that the school was trying to help Negin continue her education, despite the family problems.

Negin remains fiercely determined to continue on a path that has given her a new sense of identity.

I am not that Negin anymore," she said. "I have been leading this orchestra for six months now, and leadership takes a lot of effort." She is ready to leave her family behind for the sake of her music, she said, although, in Afghanistan, family is crucial to most people's sense of their position in the world.

"I will never accept defeat," she said.

"I will continue to play music. I do not feel safe, but when people see me and say, 'That is Negin Khpalwak', that gives me energy.”



Triple Talaq: Muslim Law Board to Contest Shayara Bano Case in Supreme Court

Apr 18, 2016

LUCKNOW: With the All India Muslim Personal Law Board deciding to oppose any move to scrap triple Talaq and contest the Shayara Bano case that has called it unconstitutional in the Supreme Court, the stage is set for another Shah Bano-like confrontation that had turned into a hot-button issue in the 1980s.

In 1985, Shah Bano, a 62-year-old Muslim mother of five from Indore, who was divorced by her husband, had won the right to alimony in the SC. But the then Congress government of Rajiv Gandhi, under pressure of Islamic orthodoxy, passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, which diluted the SC judgement, and denied even destitute Muslim divorcees the right to alimony.

The AIMPLB on Saturday also decided to thwart any attempt at intervention by the Centre, or "any authority", in the Muslim personal law.

Last month, the SC had admitted the petition of Shayara Bano from Uttarakhand seeking triple Talaq to be declared unconstitutional. The apex court had also initiated suo motu proceedings to examine the need for protecting the rights of all Muslim women. AIMPLB is all set to become a party to the case.

"The SC has accepted the board as a party in the case. Now, the board will seek a similar intervention in the Shayara Bano case," said lawyer Zafaryab Jilani. Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, who was also present, said AIMPLB must hire best lawyers to put up a strong case before the Supreme Court.



US Muslims In Illinois Host 11th Annual Event On Women In Islam

April 17, 2016

"The event primarily is to invite members of the community, who may have heard a little bit about Islam and who are curious," WREX-TV reported quoting MAGR Member Lamis Diab said.

Local Muslim women hope this event brings people together respecting each other's differences and sharing similarities.

Rockford resident Diab said it's that curiosity that brings women of many different religions together this weekend. "People are speaking using hate speech to unite the country," event participant Isha Shaheem said. "Its very dangerous and so for me I would love dialogue."

The religion of Islam, which is what Muslims practice has sparked conversations across our nation even as a topic that presidential candidates discuss. "Especially with the elections," Diab said. "Its getting a lot of publicity."

Local Muslims said the more publicity the more rumors there are to dispel. Also many misconceptions stem from extremists like, ISIS.

"ISIS has nothing with Islam," Diab said. "There are isolated incidents all over the world that happen every day where people use the name of religion for their own agenda." Its a group responsible for deadly attacks worldwide.

"Most Muslims are just perplexed of how are they saying this message of hate, how are they saying this message of violence because we are not allowed to harm anyone," Guest Speaker Lisa Killinger said.

This event starts an important conversation about topics like violence education even items of clothing.

"They see me wearing my scarf and they automatically assume I'm oppressed, I was forced, I'm uneducated I can not speak English, and if I do speak English I have an accent," Isha Shaheem said.

"I think its important to remember that the religion, that the foundation of every religion is peace," Diab said.



Dreaded Islamic State is Now Scared of This All-Women Guerrilla Group in Iraq

18 April 2016

Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YBS), is a group of female fighters who have come together to erase the dreaded Islamic State (IS). The unit, which constitutes of Yazidi and Kurdish women from nearby Turkey and Syria, is based in Kananshor village near Sinjar Mountain.

The fighters dressed in green guerrilla uniform which is similar to that of Kurdish armed groups believe that it is very important for women to learn how to defend themselves.

YBS, one of the most effective units fighting against IS, is an offshoot of the People's Protection Units (YPG) - the paramilitary wing of Syria's Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD). The unit was formed to fight against IS, who usually sees women as a soft target.

"I have been fighting for a long time now. I was on the frontline but I was injured by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device)," Haveen explains, pointing to a scar near her eye.

Denis, a fighter from Turkey said, “Thousands of women were taken captive as ISIS seized control of Sinjar in north-western Iraq, home to hundreds of thousands of members of the minority religion ISIS has labelled as infidels. IS has abducted young women and children and murdered men and older women. Those who could not flee were killed and buried in mass graves. After what happened to the Yazidi women it's important to have all women units here.”

"We have to support these women and help them to protect themselves. Isis took those women and children because they wanted to destroy their honour. We help train the Yazidi women to defend themselves and then they can control their own future. That's why we're here," Denis says.

The all women unit’s base is separated from men’s base and having any kind of romantic relationship is strictly prohibited. "We live separately but that's the only difference. On the frontline we are all the same," Haveen says.

On being asked about the how the women’s unit has battled against ISIS, Denis says, "They are so scared of us! If we kill them they can't go to heaven. It makes us laugh.... We make loud calls of happiness when we see them to let them know we are coming. That's when they become cowards.”

IS believes that when a fighter is killed by women, he won’t go to heaven. "I like that when we kill them they lose their heaven. I don't know how many of them I've killed. "It's not enough. I won't be happy until they're all dead,” Haveen says.

Two weeks ago, Kurdish fighters have retaken a village which was held by ISIS. "We waited in the mountains for weeks... We lost 15 fighters, 14 men and one woman," Dilsan, a young fighter explains.

A lot of young fighters, who have witnessed the cruelty of the ISIS have joined YBS. Rozaline (18), a former medical student left her studies to spend three months training with the YPG in the mountains in Syria.

"I came to kick ISIS out of these lands. I came for the Yazidi women. I saw them cutting women's heads off in Rojava (what Kurds call the three Kurdish enclaves just south of the Turkish border in Syria). I saw so many awful things. I don't want to see any more cutting and killing,” Rozaline said.

Speaking about YBS’s shrill celebratory ululation call, Rozaline said, “I must protect the Yazid women from those animals.... I hate them so much but I'm not afraid. Kurdish women sing when we go into battle. We know they are cowards.”

Denis, who has been a lighter for a long time now, says protecting the Yazidi women is just one step in their plan to defend women's rights globally.

"You and me, we are free, I am a fighter, you are a journalist but our sisters around the world - they suffer under the power of men, In Africa, in Asia, in Europe and American women suffer like the Yazidis. The fight of our women is a fight for all women," she says.



Strict Laws Drive West African Women to Dangerous, Illegal Abortions

Mon Apr 18, 2016

DAKAR, April 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - From crowded cities to far-flung villages, women with unwanted pregnancies across West Africa are resorting to clandestine and unsafe abortions - driven by shame, stigma and restrictive laws.

Many pregnant women and girls in the region seek abortions from untrained practitioners in unhygienic surroundings or self-induce using desperate methods, ranging from drinking bleach to inserting glass, plant stalks or bicycle spokes into the vagina.

Abortion in West Africa, a region with some of the world's highest fertility, unsafe abortion and maternal mortality rates, is largely illegal - some countries permit it only to save the woman's life while others allow it in cases of rape or incest.

While the enforcement of abortion laws varies, from police harassment to imprisonment, the laws build upon the stigma of abortion and the sway of religion to scare pregnant women and stifle debate or reforms, experts say.

"Strict laws enable governments to ignore the issue of abortion by playing on fears of doing something illegal," said Charlotte Hord Smith, policy director at advocacy group Ipas.

"On top of this, the stigma of abortion is so pervasive in West Africa that it tends to keep the issue from being freely discussed and addressed ... but the bill in Sierra Leone has opened it up to public and political debate like never before."

Sierra Leone's president has twice refused to sign a bill in recent months which would make his country the first in West Africa to legalise abortion, instead calling for a referendum.

The proposed law, which would allow women to terminate a pregnancy in any circumstances up to 12 weeks or in cases of rape, incest or risk to the health of foetus up to 24 weeks, was unanimously passed by parliament in December.

But President Ernest Bai Koroma decided not to sign the bill into law after protests from Christian and Muslim leaders, and some activists fear the legislation may soon be shelved.

"Koroma missed a chance to take a step that would have led to significant improvement in women's health," Hord Smith told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.


Nigeria and Ivory Coast are among the West African nations with the strictest laws on abortion, permitting it only to save a woman's life, while pregnant women in Senegal must get three doctors to certify that the procedure is lifesaving.

While countries like Liberia and Ghana have more progressive laws, allowing abortion in cases of rape and incest, and to preserve a woman's mental health, legislation has little impact on the likelihood of women having a legal abortion, experts say.

Fewer than one in 20 pregnant women in Ghana are aware of the abortion laws and almost half the abortions performed in the country are unsafe, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Survivors of rape or incest who want a safe, legal abortion must first take several steps - such as obtaining a police report and the approval of a local judge.

The process is costly and can take many months, said Susan Sandars, policy advisor at international charity Marie Stopes.

"In the unlikely event that a woman goes through all of these steps, due to the trauma, stigma, and taboos around sexual violence, it would probably be far too late for a safe abortion.

"It places a burden on women to prove they have been victims of crime, when the focus should be on their rights and health."

While infanticide and abortion account for a third of female prisoners in Senegal - women who terminate a pregnancy can be jailed for 10 years - fear of stigma means abortion laws are rarely enforced in other West African countries, activists say.

Abortion cases referred to the police in Sierra Leone are usually mediated and resolved by the families involved instead of being pursued in court, said Simitie Lavaly, executive director of AdvocAid, a legal organisation for women and girls.

"In Sierra Leone, abortion is seen as a family issue. People are afraid of stigma and news spreading around the community."

People who perform abortions in Sierra Leone tend only to be prosecuted if a woman dies, Lavaly added.


More than 1.8 million unsafe abortions are performed each year in West Africa, accounting for one in 10 deaths of women during or just after childbirth - almost 10,000 maternal deaths per year - according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Many women and girls in West Africa, the region with the world's highest pregnancy rate for girls aged 15-19, fall pregnant amid poor sex education, taboos surrounding sex and limited access to contraception, activists say.

Sex education is often viewed with suspicion across Africa, and in 2014 the Niger government withdrew a course on sexual and reproductive health from the school syllabus after Islamic organisations said it was contrary to the country's values.

Contraception use is slowly growing in West Africa, yet only one in 10 married women use it due to a lack of family planning services, opposition from partners or religious figures and the high cost, according to the Population Reference Bureau.

"Many young girls also become pregnant because they are left to fend for themselves and can only manage by having older boyfriends or giving sexual favours," said Lavaly of AdvocAid.

While President Koroma's refusal to sign the bill in Sierra Leone was seen as a setback for abortion rights in West Africa, activists say there are positive signs for reform in the future.

"West Africa has strong civil society support, a pan-African campaign to decriminalise abortion and momentum within countries to challenge and change the laws," said Sandars of Marie Stopes.

"There is a growing recognition that laws do not stop women from seeking abortion, but drive them towards unsafe abortions." (Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, editing by Tim Pearce. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change.



Halal Makeup: Muslim Beauty without the Forbidden Ingredients

April 18, 2016

PARIS, France – A bearded imam may have seemed out of place at last week's In-Cosmetics expo in Paris, an annual showcase for the world's leading beauty and personal care products.

But Shaikh Ali Achcar's presence points to a growing demand for makeup that adheres not just to the face – but also to Muslim rules.

"When an animal-based product isn't halal ("allowed" in Arabic), or contains alcohol, it's not only forbiddn to consume it, but it's also considered to be impure: you cannot use it on your face, or your skin," said Achcar, manning the stand of the Swiss-based Halal Certification Services (HCS).

"That's why it's increasing the need for Halal products in cosmetics," said the Brazilian, who heads HCS's office in Madrid.

Since Islam prohibits the consumption of pork and alcohol, lard-based lipsticks and many perfumes are among beauty products that are off limits to strictly observant Muslims.

Thanks largely to a 2013 EU ban on animal testing, as well as a skyrocketing demand for vegan cosmetics, many new makeup products contain no animal by-products at all.

But labelling is not uniform and can be confusing.

"The majority of the consumers do not know if the product comes from animal-based ingredients or not. So when they see the Halal product, they buy it," says Achcar, a copy of the Koran lying on the table beside him.

The nearly 800 exhibitors at the In-Cosmetics expo were showing not only beauty products but also laboratory equipment and other necessities for testing and regulatory compliance.

"In the case of a company that has animal-based products and synthetic ones in the same (factory), we have to understand how they separate the production in order to avoid cross-contamination," he said.

Achcar has begun to build a client base in the cosmetics industry, with HCS charging between 1,500 and 2,000 Euros ($2,250) for its scientific team to analyse products.

HCS also inspects factories to certify them as halal.

"Some of our competitors are a lot more expensive," said Achcar, adding that the certificates must be renewed every year.

$20 billion industry

A few years ago halal cosmetics were a niche market for a few small businesses, mainly in Muslim countries in Southeast Asia such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

But an industry worth around $20 billion (18 billion euros) in 2014 is expected to double by 2019, when it will represent 6% of the global cosmetics market, according to the British market research firm TechNavio.

This is because "some countries are developing regulations making it mandatory for cosmetic products to be certified Halal," according to Monica Ducruet, who is in charge of regulatory questions for the Swiss perfume group Givaudan's French subsidiary.

Major beauty products companies are beginning to adapt to the trend.

L'Oreal has had hundreds of its ingredients certified halal, and experts have checked its production lines turning out goods for the huge market in Indonesia, which counts 200 million Muslims.

"Some of the countries realized how much money they could make with the halal certificates. For a lot of people it's more business than religion," said a source familiar with the industry.

"The fact that halal products can be traced back through the entire value chain is important for them in terms of quality assurance," German chemicals giant BASF said in a recent news release.

The company has certified as halal 145 of its German-made ingredients destined for beauty and personal hygiene products.

But Givaudan's Ducruet said companies were having difficulty standardizing the certification.

"The problem is a lack of recognition between the different certifying bodies. Some countries, like Indonesia, have made lists of approved halal certifiers, but it's hard to have a certification recognized in several countries," she said.



Is Somali Women having Leadership role?

April 18, 2016

The word leader is someone who brings the people together and guides them toward a common goal. Leader is someone who have influence with others and have strong relationship to the community, leader is a empathy & sympathy person. Leadership is all about to guide the people and show the way of the people live, and the good leadership is someone who can share the problems of the community and can see the needs and the obstacles of the people and guide where and what the people like to. Leadership is the action of leading a group of people or an organization. Leadership is the powerful instrument of human development. Leadership is a guideline and road map for human development. Leadership is a machine that moves the countries development. Leadership is all about declining the human disorder. In other word leadership is a road-map for the success and expansion of the state. Leadership is the key for good governance.

Basically leadership is all about leading the people and involving people’s values, attitudes, behaviors, believes and other diversities among the different people in the state, according to their diversities.

Somali women and leadership

Somali Women is the back bone of social lives, since 1991 and also before the government collapsed, Somalia’s women has been participating, advocating and lobbying peace building of Somalia, and also they have been dedicating their live on how Somalia become stable, peace and security, also they have been donating their resource the Somalia’s peace, until now they do so, for example Hawo Taako she was a Somali woman who dedicated her life to have freedom of Somalia. Actually Somali women are very eager to see working and strong government in Somalia and they don’t need to see unending and everlasting wars and conflicting groups and governments.

When the Somali tribes were fighting, Women was more effected people and they faced many problems but they endured a lot. When the institutions of the government were destroyed, Somali women were working rehabilitations and the recovery of the country and they did not shattered and they did not feel tired.

For example Somali mothers have always been active in the development of the country, they back lots to recover the needs of the family, they were responsible for the whole family, also they involved in finding a solution to Somalia, and also they played an important role the reconciliation of Somali clans.

for now I have seen some differences and the country is going to go well and the security is progressively changing and becoming good, therefore the Somali’s women have played an important role for the peace building of the country and they took part the negotiation deal among Somalis people and they established platform for the peace and unity of Somalia. Subsequently, all those achievement is done by Somali women.

Somali women also helps and advocates to underprivileged and marginal groups of the community and therefore we know all those groups needs to support in terms of humanitarians and financially, because of they are week part of the society and they are vulnerable and defenceless to the social problems.

Actually the women in Somalia mutually those who live and settled in the country and also the other who live in the outside of the country both of them always supports and donates to the underprivileged peoples and also they might made fundraisings and resource mobilization to vulnerable community of the society in terms of financially and humanitarians, so we can said women are shoulders that allows us to fly to reach our goals.

What kind of leadership do Somali women need?


If we look for the domestic and the household; women are the eye source and the top presidential in home. Mother is responsible for all activities in the home and she always effectively ensures and promises on how leadership activities are going from their homes. Women in home always leads and plans the internal affairs of the family, when the baby comes to the world, Mother is the only person who guides and teaches new things to the young one, as a result of mother, women is the eye source of the leadership because every mother is a female.

Internally, In domestic and familial duty, women are always involves, manages and controls the whole things going their home/families and they are the greatest engine who allows and controls all the well-being’s of the family and they also solves any evils & problems that faces the family and even the outside of their home; for example when the tribes fight or disagreed each other, women plays important role on how to negotiate and have peaceful among them.


Somali women are Muslim and the Muslim women have the best kind of leadership, and I believe that there is no rights that we have missed, but the government leaders and also the traditional leaders what they call (oday dhaqmeed) are not willing to give the women their rights; for example There was a time when girls did not go to school to study what the boy is studying from the schools , there was a time women did not Allow to take part the decisions of the society, but for now all those situations are changed but I can’t said 100% is achieved , therefore those problems could occur right now, because may be some of the society may believe boy is better than the girls and that’s haram to believe, because no one is above the other one, all the human are equal right to survive whether male or female.

In Islam religion women can’t be the president and other top responsibilities but they have the other opportunities of leadership such as ministries, local community representatives, parliament, and the district mayors and etc.

We know all In Islam religion; women don’t allow becoming the president and having the top responsibility such as position of prayer leader and highest authority of the armed forces. As this Hadith said;

لَنْ يُفْلِحَ قَوْمٌ وَلَّوْا أَمْرَهُمْ امْرَأَةً

A people will not be successful who are commanded by a woman.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 4163, Grade: sahih

But the local representatives, Women are allowed to take responsibility for the lower tasks, Women are allowed to do the primary and lower positions and can have a leadership role, if the women can hold positions down, if she has the ability to do something, no one can withstand but the clan based system of Somali politics are the big challenge that women almost face because this system will reduce the confidence of women who wish to enter politics, for example when the women is married husband which is not her clan the clan leaders said ‘if we select you which clan are you representing, your clan or your husband clan’ and this is not right. This system of politics it will also humiliate the role of women in politics. But Insha Allah we wish to have fair and free election. There is a women that have highly qualified knowledge, they have the ability and capacity to do a lot of work, I believe that there is no any reason which ignores that women’s ability; there is no reason to deny women aspirants.

An example of Somali women who are in politics

Maryam Qaasim Ahmed

Ex. Minister for Human Development and Public Services of Somalia from November 2012 to January 2014.

Board member of fursan-fund

Maryam is an example of women who are in politics but she is not only political representative Woman, she is highly motivated women, she is role model of Somali women, she is productive and effective women; she is diligent woman. She has conducted basic and benefitable programs to Somali society such as” go to school “which was encouraged the infusion of many Somali children to attend school and learn…….

Is leadership only for political?

In other way, Leadership is not only to become political leader; I believe that, I can lead any sector for example the knowledge sector, the business sector, health sector and etc. I see many opportunities for women to participate in leadership and display their abilities and share the knowledge of leadership that every women have and by the way I didn’t mean political leadership is not good for the women but I believe we can create some changes, following the rights of Islam religion is gave to us. For example you can share your knowledge to your community enjoying the high schools and the university, and become a teacher and head teacher of the high schools and the universities, and even we can give the community benefitable public lectures about the development, about prayers and good deeds, and all the needs of the community. As I mentioned we have some more chances that every women needs to participate for example the business, social services, health and etc.

In political leadership we know all, the number of women representatives is very small accordingly to number of male representatives and this one will discourage the coming young women. If the Somali women improve their knowledge, I am very sure the number of leadership representatives will increase.

I would like to recommend the Somali girls to cooperate and work together to reach unity, and every woman should welcome the other woman, who needs to participate in politics, don’t oppose her, and give your vote, it’s your same gender considering her knowledge, skill and ability.

Strengthening Somali women’s leadership

Somali Women are very essential contributors to peace and development of the country. So far they are almost absent in decision making process and less role for political participation but only special events women are present at the negotiation table. And their idea is not almost listen even if they are better than the man’s idea. And that’s a big discrimination against women.

These points are very essential to practice in order to achieve effective women in leadership

To Improve the education of the young women

Giving a job opportunities to young women graduates

Encouraging the young women to participate the community development opportunities

Finding out and discovering the strengths of the young female

Having role model female

Motivating the female to get their rights

Empowering the women

Encouraging women to wear Hijab when they are in politics, because Hijab is only thing which protect you from the bad eyes

Welcoming the new women going to participate the politics.

The women should stay their limits that Islam religion gave to them.




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